Hanx Writer, the No. 1 app on Apple’s iTunes store, wasn’t developed by a massive Silicon Valley corporation or a prodigious tech wunderkind but by actor Tom Hanks.
Anyone who’s familiar with Tom Hanks’ movie career knows the actor has an affinity for the past. That fascination, which has led to roles in “Saving Private Ryan,” “Apollo 13” and, most recently, “Saving Mr. Banks,” also includes a love for typewriters, the now seemingly ancient machine that preceded computers before falling out of favor decades ago.
Hanks, though, has resurrected that interest with the Hanx Writer app, available in three versions for the iPad for free. The app, released last Thursday, allows users to manually set their page and even plays the signature ka-chunk noise for which typewriters are remembered.
“Behold, Hanx Writer -- the app that provides the ease and speed of an iPad with the sound and pace of a manual typewriter,” Hanks wrote in the app’s description. With Hanx Writer, you’ll hear the rhythm of your work with SHOOK SHOOK or FITT-FITT. You can rely on a DELETE key to correct your typos, or turn that off. Be bold and fearless!”
Hanks has a well-documented love for typewriters, with the popular Nerdist podcast famously convincing the hard-to-reach Hanks to appear on the show by bribing him with a portable 1934 Smith Corona typewriter.
“In the late '70s, I bought a typewriter -- portable enough for world travel and sturdy enough to survive decades of 10-fingered beatings,” the Oscar winner wrote on the app page. “I’ve since acquired many more -- each different in design, action and sound. Each one stamps into paper a permanent trail of imagination through keys, hammers, cloth and dye -- a softer version of chiseling words into stone.
“I write without caring about typeovers, XXXX’d-out words, goofy syntax, and bad spelling because the feel & sound of a typewriter is satisfying in ways that couldn’t be matched -- Until now!”
â€” Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) August 14, 2014
The app’s release comes amid a mini typewriter revival happening in cities throughout the U.S. and spurred by some famous names. Struggling typewriter-restoration shop owners who previously thought they wouldn’t survive into the 21st century are again thriving thanks to Hanks, author Larry McMurtry, writer David Mamet and the Brooklyn hipsters who have championed the old technology.
The renaissance has gained enough interest to produce “The Typewriter in the 21st Century,” a short film produced with funds provided only by Kickstarter users.